Sunday Link Love: Handling Writer's Block, Using Yoast in Wordpress + Boosting Newsletter Subscribers

Sunday Link Love is a series of helpful marketing and entrepreneur lifestyle resources from around the web, plus a few insights into my behind-the-scenes life. On my mind... The past few weeks have been all about the ebb and flow of energy for me.

What I'm loving... The warmer weather! Even while living in Florida I was somehow vitamin D deficient, so you bet I've been enjoying soaking up the sun lately.

Reading... On Monday I started Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, by T. Colin Campbell (co-author of The China Study published a few years ago). I haven't read a book about nutrition in awhile, so I'm enjoying the reminders. Just like The Sleep Revolution that I finished last week, I've read similar books before but need a reminder every so often.

Anticipating... Heading to Florida on the 28th for the first non-work or family related vacation I've had in a long time!

Learning... I had another inspiring session with my business coach this week. The biggest lesson from my session was around value messaging for my services. My clients pay me for my experience and results, not for my hours.

Now, on to this week's round up!

Marketing + Entrepreneur Lifestyle Round-up:

» Consistently writing great content for your blog and business definitely has its challenges! I know I've struggled with this in the past, and it can often lead to self-doubt and mental blocks.  These four great writing tricks will help you get out of your head and start writing.

» Struggling to get more clients? Read about how to use the fundamentals of online marketing to build a sales funnel. You'll be bringing in clients on autopilot!

» Choosing a name for your blog can be hard! Here are great tips on how to choose the perfect blog name (plus a free editable style guide template).

» Speaking of starting a blog, read this first: 13 myths you believe about launching your blog & online business (but never should) - trust me you won't regret it!

» In the online business world, your subscribers are key to your success. Maya shares amazing tips on authentically boosting your newsletter subscribers into a healthy and thriving email list filled with people who love your message.

» Looking to better use Yoast settings on with your Wordpress site? Check out this guide on how to use Yoast SEO in Wordpress Pages and Posts.

» Being an introvert in an extrovert-favored world can be exhausting, and you know I'm all about promoting self-care! Kayla shares how she's managing her energy levels as an introvert.

» Ever wonder how you can create a workbook to share and help your readers? Read this post will definitely help you get started on the right track.

 

My life lately according to Instagram...

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Join me on Instagram for a behind the scenes look at my business + life plus tips to grow your blog and business.

1 Comment

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

It's Okay to Take a Mental Health Day

Whether you're in school, working in the corporate world or running your own business, I'm a supporter of mental health days. These aren't days where you skip out on responsibility just because you feel like it. These are days when you can't focus, feel exhausted and know you need a break.

Taking a day off is especially challenging for entrepreneurs. Each hour we don't work, we miss out on money. Most entrepreneurs don't take vacation days, personal days, or sick days for the first 1-3 years while they're getting their business up and running. It took me almost a full year to feel comfortable taking a 3 day vacation, and I still scramble to make up the hours and feel guilty for not being available for my clients.

There was a day last month when I knew I needed a mental health day. I woke up feeling down, irritable and unmotivated. My writing was uninspired, so I worked on little tasks. I had two appointments (dentist and orthopedist) who both told me my pain is caused from stress. I'm grinding my teeth at night (despite wearing a mouth guard) and irritating my tendinitis by working too much. (Stress and working too much are likely not the cause of my tendinitis, but is keeping it inflamed.)

So I took the day off, for the most part. I tried to exercise to boost endorphins and then ended up going to our local frozen yogurt bar and ate nothing but sugar for dinner. I read a new book on my kindle and took 2 naps. But you know what? By 8pm I felt rejuvenated. Was it just a hormonal thing? Or did taking the afternoon to relax help? It's hard to say, but when I woke up the next morning inspired and raring to go- I didn't care which it was that helped me.

I know there's a lot of advice out there saying that the only way to make it as an entrepreneur is to push through the days you don't feel like working, write even if you're uninspired, etc. I want to challenge that just a little.

[Tweet "Take days off to get re-motivated + rejuvenated. Mental health days are vital."]

Do something different from your normal routine.

If you're sick, take the time off to get better. Build vacations into your schedule. Block them out in advance. Set your blog and social media posts up in advance, or ask for some guest post while you're out.

You NEED this time. It's too easy to burn out, between trying to keep up with writing, advertising, connecting, learning.

Stop feeling guilty for taking time off. New experiences and relaxation open you up to new ideas and possibilities, and those are what will take your business to the next level.

 

Do you take mental health days? If you're an entrepreneur, how do you handle vacation time?

Image Credit: Kate Powell

Regain Control Over Anxiety (Free Worksheet)

I'm pretty open about my anxiety in case I'm able to help anyone else who experiences it. I suffer from general anxiety and probably some social anxiety. On top of being an introvert, it can get pretty overwhelming. Generalized anxiety disorder is "...a mental health condition in which a person is often worried or anxious about many things and finds it hard to control this anxiety.(PubMed Health)" Basically, if it interferes with your every day life it's most likely generalized anxiety.

Social anxiety is defined by Psychology Today as, "...an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations."

WebMD states, "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18% of adults, according to leading specialists in anxiety treatment."

As I've gotten further into studying holistic health, I've come across a few natural ways to deal with anxiety. I'll save the herbs, teas, and foods for another post. Today we're going to explore the psychological aspect. While I am not against medical intervention for these disorders, there are a few other ways I recommend trying first. To me, aside from calming techniques, feeling like I have more control over the situation helps tremendously.

Use these four prompts to help you feel more in control:

List the facts about the situation. What about your anxiety is true and part of the present moment?

List the worries that are hypothetical. What about this situation is based in the future? What do you have no control over?

List 5 things you can do right now to relax. This might include taking deep breaths, exercising, taking a bubble bath, meditating, etc.

List 3 things you can do to take control of the situation. Maybe you can call family and friends to help you work through the situation, make a list of ways to save money if that's what's bothering you, etc.

This article from MindBodyGreen gives 5 ways of coping with your anxiety that are actually making it worse.

Use this worksheet to regain control of your anxiety:

anxiety worksheet

If you suffer from anxiety, how do you ease it? What are your go-to ways for feeling more in control?

23 Quick + Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

Before you grab that pint of Ben & Jerry's, pop a Xanax or hit the mall, take a few deep breaths and try one of the options below. Chances are "retail therapy" will only leave you more stressed, because according to this Washington Post article, "73% of Americans name money as the number one factor that affects their stress level." In fact, "54% of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives." It sounds like everyone could use a few pick-me-ups! The following options are free or low cost techniques you can start applying immediately:

Get Physical: 1. Take a walk and feel the sun on your face. 2. Practice yoga. 3. Run, bike, swim, dance- anything that makes you sweat. "Runner's High" is from a rush of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that will improve your mood and act as a pain reliever.

Entice the Senses: 4. Burn an aromatherapy candle 5. Dab lavender or chamomile essential oils on your wrists 6. Drink soothing tea like chamomile. 7. Chew (sugar-free) gum. This has been connected with relieving cortisol, a stress hormone. 8. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate. 9. Sip a nutrition-filled green smoothie. The sweetness will be comforting while the nutrients will help keep your body on track.

Slow Down and Relax: 10. Take a bath with Epsom salt (Epsom salt with chamomile essential oil is my favorite!) 11. Meditate, even if it's as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on a few deep breaths. 12. Take a time out with a warm shower. 13. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing one muscle group at a time. 14. Take a short break from technology- namely your Smart Phone.

Connect With Others: 15. Call an old friend or family member. Talking to someone else can help you put things in perspective, laugh, reminisce about the past, or relieve stress just through venting. 16. Pet an animal. 17. Smile, even if it's forced. 18. Snuggle, kiss or simply hug a loved one to relieve stress hormones and increase positive feelings.

Other Options: 16. Write out your feelings. Burn them later if it'll help you let go. 20. For on-going relief, start a gratitude journal. Writing just a few things every day that you're thankful for has been proven to have lasting positive effects on the writer's happiness. 21. Put it in perspective. Make a list of immediate actions you can take and the things you can't change. 22. Find video clips on YouTube that make you laugh. 23. Sing loudly to your favorite tunes

What's your favorite way to immediately reduce stress? Share it in the comments below to help others!

A version of this post appeared first on MindBodyGreen. See all of my MBG posts here.

My Gluten-Free Pet Peeve

This video went viral this week, and it definitely made me laugh.

"Some people can't eat gluten for medical reasons, but a lot of people in Los Angeles don't eat gluten because someone in their yoga class told them not to. Jimmy wondered how many of these people even know what gluten is, so we sent a camera crew out to a popular exercise spot here in LA and asked people who are gluten-free a simple question: "What is gluten?""

Removing gluten from diets has gained a lot of popularity in the past year or so. Everywhere you look there are questionable products labeled GF (ice cream, really? oranges?? Come on..), books on the best seller list like "Wheat Belly" and people raving about ditching gluten.

My problem with it? [Tweet "Gluten-free does not automatically make a food healthy."] That seems to be a major misconception in some groups. Just like an organic cookie isn't healthy just because it's organic.

What is gluten? Gluten is a wheat protein that helps to bind breads, pasta, and desserts to create a denser product.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with people going gluten-free. I'm all for figuring out if you have food allergies. Food allergies can lead to such a wide range of problems. I also agree that wheat has changed a lot over the past 50 years, so I do believe there is an increased allergy to it. Plus, people are eating more gluten-filled products like processed foods, pastries, bread, etc. which leads to an increase in digestive issues and auto-immune disease. However, there are way too many people removing gluten simply because it's the latest fad. They overhear someone demonizing it and think, "Yes! That's why I can't lose weight."

Some of it's the fault of the "diet culture" of America. Every few months there's a new diet, plus new "evidence" to suggest something is terrible. So of course people are confused. Then some of it is just a lack of education about what people are putting into their bodies.

So, my major concern with this is that some people are starting to associate "gluten-free" with "healthy." I think it's great that there are more gluten free options available for those who need it, but you have to be careful because a lot of these products are still highly processed and filled with sugar.

Gluten Free Junk Food

So what about the people who do start eating better and do lose weight? Are they losing weight because they cut out gluten-filled items like pizza, cookies and pasta (which are sugar-filled, processed foods) and started consuming more produce and healthier grain options, like rice? I'm not sure, but I think it's an interesting question.

Celiac Disease + Gluten Sensitivity

In reality, only 1% of the population has Celiac Disease, in which it's absolutely necessary to avoid ALL gluten. Only 6-10% of the population is gluten sensitive (reported cases). While there are medical tests for Celiac Disease, it's a bit harder to test for a sensitivity. Basically, if you feel better when you cut out gluten, you probably have a sensitivity. If you suffer from digestive diseases such as IBS, Crohn's, Colitis or leaky gut syndrome, it's a good idea to try going gluten-free, as gluten can be difficult to digest for people with these conditions.

Celiac Disease Check-list.

Performing an elimination diet to test for food allergies is an easy way to figure out what works best for your body and what causes complications. And the good news? If you cut out an allergy for long enough, you may be able to consume it again later. Just keep testing.

How long should you test? I recommend 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the severity of your symptoms. You can talk with a Naturopathic doctor or Registered Dietitian for help making the trial easier and for adjusting to the lifestyle if you do find you have an allergy.

My Verdict?

I don't support cutting out entire food groups for the sake of losing weight and "eating healthier." If you have a true allergy, then yes, of course you should cut it out. If you just feel better without it? Sure, go for it. But please make sure you're not replacing it with junk and know that the weight loss may not be sustainable.

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I have a lot of Cross-fitting Paleo friends, and have researched Paleo and gluten extensively for my fiance's condition and my migraines, so again, I'm not knocking the benefits. I'd love to hear your view in the comments! Are you gluten free? What lead you to that decision?

 

1 Comment

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

Work-Life Balance: Finding a "Home-Base"

The idea of balance has been haunting me for a few years now. I tend to go from one extreme to another. I'll feel overwhelmed with too much work then bored with not enough. I'll feel anxious about socializing then feel very lonely. I'll feel very inspired and motivated then listless and lethargic.

I think it has to do more with understanding my personality and needs than it has to do with true "balance." I'm still learning how to manage my extremely introverted nature.

Work-life balance, and balance overall, is about balancing energy. But you have to know what truly drains you in more than just the physical sense.

Everyone's idea of balance is different. It is possible to work 60 hour weeks and still be happy or sacrifice money to work part time and be there for your family. You can think of it in terms of what's important to you, but that might get muddled by what you think SHOULD be important to you. Remove any guilt and really dig deep.

Does writing for your blog and inspiring clients make you come alive? Does the thought of a new book and a comfy night at home sound more appealing than a night out? Maybe you don't like the job you have during the day, but your side gig keeps you going. This is all okay.

Spend a week {at least} really paying attention to what gives you energy and what drains it. Make a list so you can consult it when you're starting to feel burnt out, frazzled and alone. It could be as simple as incorporating your favorite yoga class more often or scheduling in a night every week with friends.

Once you know what drains you and inspires you (gives you energy), come up with ideas and ways for you to return to your own personal "center."  Your life doesn't need to be balanced all the time. Just know when and how to return so you don't get burnt out. You'll create your best work when you know how to manage your energy.

How do you return to home-base and re-center yourself?

The Basics: 4 Health Tips for Entrepreneurs

If you're new to working from home and/or entrepreneurship or have gotten off track with your health, this post is for you! Feeling your best will lead to doing your best work. + Drink enough water Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle aches and false food cravings, among other things.

+ Move your body Set an alarm every hour. Take a short walk and stretch. Download a free pedometer app on your smart phone and aim to get 10,000 steps per day. Bonus Tip: Every 20 minutes or so, move your eyes away from the computer screen and look at something far away for at least 20 seconds. This will reduce eye strain.

+ Release stress Set specified working hours. If you have proper discipline and motivation, you can still take advantage of the flexibility of entrepreneurship, but try to limit stretching your work hours too far into the evening. There need to be boundaries between work and family/you time.

Being an entrepreneur is stressful. It's on you to land the clients, pay the bills and stay inspired. Find a way to release your stress and focus on your own wellness. When you feel good, you do your best work. Try meditating, yoga (my personal favorite!) or taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.

+ Eat more fruits and veggies (especially green!) For those entrepreneurs who are working from home, this should be relatively easy. You're not hauling produce into an office or figuring out how to keep apple slices fresh for 6 hours. Try replacing one carb-loaded snack a day and go from there. Eating fruits and vegetables keeps your energy high without the afternoon blood-sugar dip.

 

What health + wellness habits have you adopted while working at home?